PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Attacks on polio teams in northwest Pakistan on Friday killed a polio worker and two policemen assigned to protect one of the teams, police and a government official said.
In both attacks, gunmen fled the scene after the killings. No group claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Pakistani militants have killed more than a dozen polio workers and police protecting them over the past year. They accuse health workers of acting as spies for Washington and claim the polio vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile.
In the first attack Friday, gunmen opened fire on two officers as they were riding on a motorcycle to the town of Swabi, where they were supposed to protect a polio team during a vaccination drive, according to police officer Khalid Iqbal. The town lies 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Iqbal said authorities were trying to find the attackers and arrest them. Hours later, a gunman killed a polio worker on his way home after vaccinating children in Jamrud, a tribal region located on the outskirts of Peshawar. Government administrator Iqbal Khan said the slain worker was targeted for participating in the government-run anti-polio campaign in the tribal area.
Pakistan is one of only three countries where the virus is still endemic. Militants have targeted workers vaccinating children, policemen escorting polio teams in the tribal and urban areas in the northwest and elsewhere, and have also threatened people who want to get their children vaccinated.